Your Cocker Spaniel’s Ears and Ear Infections
Ear infections are a common complaint for many dog owners. Some experts estimate that one of five dogs will have recurrent ear infection problems. Unfortunately, the long, floppy ears of the Cocker Spaniel combined with the silky fur that may line its ears combine to make conditions favorable to dog ear infections. We recommend preventing ear problems with regular care.
How do you know if your Cocker Spaniel has an Ear Infection?
Since Cocker Spaniels get ear infections with such frequency, you’ll want to look for signs of them. Symptoms frequently include head shaking, rubbing or scratching at the ear(s), and ear odor may be present, especially if there’s a bacterial infection setting in. Look for redness of the skin, a colored waxy build up, or any types of crusty deposits. In severe cases your pet may tilt its head. Any infection should be treated early so that it doesn’t progress to the delicate inner ear.
What Are Causes of a Cocker Spaniel’s Ear Infection?
- Ear Design Cocker Spaniels are frequent targets of ear infections because of their heavy, floppy ears and the denseness of the fur on their ears. Damp, humid environments are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that promote ear infections.
- Mites Mites are very common in dogs. Just as healthy humans have tiny mite populations (skin mites and “eyelash mites”), there are canine-specific species of mites. Usually the mites don’t cause any problems, however puppies who get mites from their mothers can develop both spotty mange problems around their face, as well as ear infections if the mites migrate and overpopulate inside the puppy’s ears.
- Yeast and Bacteria In fully grown dogs, yeast infections can cause infection in your dog’s ears. Bacterial infections, including Staph, Strep, and E. coli bacteria among others, can follow.
- Allergies Other causes of ear infections are seasonal and food-induced. All Cocker Spaniels are at a higher risk of developing certain food allergies than other dogs. When a dog’s immune system responds to allergies, a common symptom is itching of the ears, so you’ll want to inspect your dog’s ears inside with a flashlight to see if they are infected or just itchy. If the ears appear healthy, consult your vet or breeder about recommended foods and try an elimination diet or switching to hyper-allergenic food.
- Over Prescribing Certain prescription medications that a dog may have taken for any number of health conditions can trigger reactions either around the time of dosage or as a later side effect. Reactions down the road to prescription “cures” is one reason Vet Organics believes in trying a natural approach first. Since Cocker Spaniels are smaller dogs with particularly sensitive systems, if you can avoid harsher treatments for health problems it’s advisable to seek them.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Cocker Spaniels’ fine coats should be brushed daily or every other day. When you are grooming him, your Cocker Spaniel’s ears can be quickly examined for color, cleanliness, and smell. Since Cockers’ ears are both heavy and long, they are predisposed to chronic ear infections. Spaniels that have overall allergies may have more difficult ears. You can keep your dog’s ears healthy by inspecting them regularly, cleaning food debris from the silky hair tips of his ears after feeding, and cleaning the inside of his ears weekly with a product made for dog’s ears. Clipping some of the inner ear hairs back with a pair of blunt scissors while your dog is very calm and relaxed may help. If you have your Cocker groomed professionally (see video), the groomers may use electric clippers to clean up the outside surface of your dog’s ears and a bit of the hair on the upper sides of the ears for better air circulation, as well as lightly trim some of the inside fur. However many dog professionals advise against the practice of plucking hairs from the inside of the Cocker Spaniel’s ears as it could lead to inflammation.
Ear infections can be very painful. Expect sensitivity if your Cocker Spaniel has an infection. Most ear infections can be caught early and require only topical cleaning and treatment which can be done easily at home. In severe and advanced cases, a vet must examine the dog, diagnose specific complications and perform lab tests. The vet may prescribe both oral and topical medications and sometimes even surgery is required.
For most routine ear infections, treating them early will prevent expensive and stressful vet intervention. Ear infections do not normally resolve on their own, so treating them to clear them up is essential. You want to look for a product that is both gentle and safe but will also kill yeast and bacteria, like EcoEars. (EcoEars not only cleans dogs’ ears but is also all-natural and backed by Vet Organics’ money-back guarantee.) Remember that a moist or wet ear canal is to be avoided so be sure to let the dog shake and also to dry any remaining product with a facial tissue or soft cloth.